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Iqal: what is its history?

The Iqal is not just a part of the traditional wear in the Gulf region. Saudis have worn it for more than 90 years as a sign of authenticity and social heritage.

The dress accessory is widely standard in Saudi Arabia, regardless of size or form, and during the blessed month of Ramadan and the approaching Eid al-Fitr, many desire to wear something new. That is when markets that sell the Iqal become particularly popular.

History

In an interview with Al-Arabiya.net, Walid Al-Obaidi, a historian and heritage enthusiast, says the Iqal is considered a historical heritage: “Without his crowning on the head, a man’s beauty is incomplete (…). It is one of the badges of legitimacy and belonging to Arab and Gulf men in particular.”  

Everything might have started when camel owners, wanting to rest and relax a bit, used to tie the animal with a rope. They did it in a way that the final result resembled what we nowadays call Iqal, bringing the accesory over their heads when they are about to move.

The headband industry

But how is the Iqal produced? “Before the headband industry evolved using woven threads of silk and cotton and produced in different engravings, the headband was made using the traditional yarn manual method from goat’s wool,” Al-Obaidi explained.

Iqal comes in various styles of fine threats made of wool and silk, according to Osama Al-Misbahi, a specialist in the industry, and the month of Ramadan is a golden season for shops selling and tailoring many of them. Prices start at 50 riyals and rise to 150 riyals, depending on the thread’s quality.

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